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General questions about masking url and what will other sites see?

     
2:08 am on Aug 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Hello forum,
I have some general questions about mod_rewrite. I have a WordPress site (www.WordPress.site for example) and interested in using domain masking but not sure if this can be achieved...

Basically, each Author on the site has an Author's Page. I would like the options to give certain Authors, but not all, the ability to mask their Authors Page with a different domain name. So basically when someone is browsing my site and they click on an Author name it will link to their Author Page (let's say Jake). When that happens some Authors would have their own domain URL displayed in the browser address bar -> So, Jake, the author would have a domain name of www.Jake.com for example displayed instead of www.WordPress.site/author/jake

I'm pretty sure this can be achieved although I don't know the details. I would hire a developer for that part.

But the second and important part I need to find out is if that happens will other sites recognize this masked name. So users are browsing my site and click to go to Jake's Author Page that has the domain name masked to www.Jake.com. Once they are there let's say they click on an outbound link going to a completely different site, let's say the link takes them to www.CNN.com. What will CNN see the URL that the user came from? Will they see my actual URL of wwwWordPress.site/author/jake ? Or will they see that the user came from the masked URL www.Jake.com?

Also, if all they see is that traffic from this link came from www.Jake.com is there a way to find out that a domain name has been masked... IF CNN really wanted to investigate could they find this out?

I'm trying to develop a legitimate site and looking for this particular setup. I know it sounds a little odd but for this case, it's applicable IF this actually can be done.
2:11 am on Aug 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Hello r083rt and welcome to WebmasterWorld [webmasterworld.com]
7:18 am on Aug 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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welcome to WebmasterWorld, r083rt!

other sites will see a Referer HTTP request header with the url of the page on which the referring link was discovered, in your case the www.jake.com url.
the internal url will not be visible.

you should insure that any requests for wwwWordPress.site/author/jake urls get 301 redirects to the equivalent www.jake.com urls.you will need to install wordpress on a server where you can configure several virtual hosts.

you also need to consider the requirements for managing multiple authors - i.e a finite and fixed number of authors vs a variable and growing number of authors, since your plan implies a new virtual host configuration for each author.
11:08 am on Aug 6, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I know it sounds a little odd but for this case


Yep, sounds odd. I realise we don't know the bigger picture, but from what you've described, this generally sounds like a bad idea. Not just because it would be technically awkward to implement, but because it would also be "awkward"/confusing for users (who would essentially be bounced from one domain to another) and it's unlikely going to do your SEO any favours. The author is also unlikely to benefit much (SEO wise) from having a single profile page under their own domain.

Just my 2c.

if all they see is that traffic from this link came from www.Jake.com is there a way to find out that a domain name has been masked... IF CNN really wanted to investigate could they find this out?


By just analysing their access logs, they are not going to see anything. However, if they "really wanted to investigate" (depending on what you mean by that), then yes they could twig. For a start, both domains resolve to the same IP address and all "internal" links from the profile page probably direct back to the main site. (?)
3:41 pm on Aug 6, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Another problem with that setup would be getting WP to co-operate with such a setup because the host is configured within the Settings of WP so that those virtual host headers will be trying to convince WP to send WP resources to "another" site - unless you would have some way to configure a separate install of WP on each virtual host. I don't think WP is the ideal choice for the scenario.
6:15 pm on Aug 6, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Jake, the author would have a domain name of www.Jake.com for example displayed instead of www.WordPress.site/author/jake

How can you be certain that the domain name jake.com hasn't already been taken? As far as the human user's browser is concerned, they are at jake.com, so that's where they send their requests. The browser doesn't care if jake.com happens to be a subsubsubdirectory within some other dot com. (And neither does the host, hence the concept of “add-on” domains.)

I have to wonder if "masking" is even the right word.
10:59 pm on Aug 6, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Thanks guys for clarifying how this could work and all the quirks I would run into.
2:01 am on Aug 7, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I have to wonder if "masking" is even the right word.

it's essentially a typical combination of virtual hosting, internal rewrites, and external redirects for hostname canonicalization.
the only unusual aspect is that several virtual hosts are using the same root directory or their root directories are subdirectories of the OP's WP installation, depending on how it's configured.